Bangladesh Ferry Disaster Death Toll Reaches More Than 70

( [email protected] ) Feb 23, 2015 12:19 PM EST
A weekend ferry disaster in central Bangladesh has left 70 people dead on Monday and officials in that country think that the death toll could go up from that accident.
Overcrowded passenger boats navigate through river in Dhaka (Reuters / Andrew Biraj)
Bangladesh Ferry Tragedy
Bangladesh bystanders carry the body of a ferry accident victim at Manikganj, some 30kms west of Dhaka on February 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/STR)

A weekend ferry disaster in central Bangladesh has left 70 people dead on Monday and officials in that country think that the death toll could go up from that accident.

According to Julhas Alam of the Associated Press, divers halted the official search for more bodies late Monday after the ferry was risen to the surface and towed to shore. Rasheda Ferdousi, a local government administrator, said that there was still "some missing," although an exact figure was not provided.

"Our people are using boats to survey the river for any dead bodies," Ferdousi said. "But here at the scene we are calling off the search as there are no more bodies inside the ferry."

Alam reported that the river ferry, which supposedly carried up to 140 passengers, capsized Sunday afternoon after being hit by a cargo vessel. The accident happened about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, on the Padma River.

"The ferry, the M.L. Mosta, sank in 6 meters (20 feet) under water before a salvage ship pulled it to the surface," Alam wrote.

Farid Ahmed of CNN reported that the passenger ferry was a double-decker, which meant that some passengers, particularly those on the lower deck, may have been trapped when it overturned. Those who were able to be rescued were mostly passengers on the upper deck.

"The passengers who were on the deck survived, but many who were inside were trapped," passenger Hafizur Rahman Sheikh said, adding that the cargo vessel hit the middle of the ferry.

Alam noted that ferries in Bangladesh usually do not maintain formal passenger lists.

"Usually the ferry operators don't keep any records, and we came to know from survivors that there were more than 100 people on board," Ferdousi said.

District officials told CNN that at least 19 children were among the dead. According to the Associated Press, a police control room said that rescuers recovered 48 bodies on Sunday and another 22 on Monday.

Ahmed reported that according to Ferdousi, who also headed the district's administration, officials opened an operations center on the bank of the river. People could go to that center and list the names of any missing persons from that ferry.

"They had formed a five-member committee to investigate the mishap," Ferdousi said to CNN.

The Associated Press reported that ferry accidents are a common occurrence in Bangladesh due to the fact it is crisscrossed by more than 130 rivers. The last incident happened in August, when an oversized passenger ferry with 200 people capsized on the Padma River near Dhaka, which left more than 100 people dead or missing; that ferry was supposed to hold only 85 passengers.

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